Nepal has a Hindu festival named Tihar that lasts five days, and each day celebrates something different. But more specifically, the second day of that festival is completely dedicated to dogs, called Kukur Tihar. However, regardless of all of the regional or the denominational differences between people, this holiday is a period of storytelling, gift-giving, as well as a recognition of the different relationships that humans have with the surrounding world.
For the special day of the dogs, all of the dogs are celebrated and blessed with a Tika, which is a red mark that’s put on their forehead, and they are all given flower garlands and offered food as part of this celebration.
The entire day of the dog is celebrated because the Hindus believe that dogs are the messenger of Lord Yamaraj, who is the god of death. So if they keep the dogs in good humor, it is believed that the people will be able to appease the God of death himself. Lord Yamaraj himself has two dogs, named Sadal and Shyam, who are believed to be guarding the entrance to hell, and they play a very important role in the celebration of Kukur Tihar.
However, dogs are not the only celebrated animal during this festival, which shares some of its traditions with the popular Indian Diwali festival of lights. During Tihar, aside from dogs, the people also celebrate cows as well as crows.
Meanwhile, the food and treats that are given to dogs, even the stray ones, during this celebration range from meat, eggs, milk, and all the way to good quality dog food. And the aim of this holiday is to show the deep and meaningful relationship that humans and canines have had in the past, in the present and will have in the future as well.
Throughout this festival, the citizens of Nepal usually clean out their houses and yards, and then they light lamps and pray to the Goddess of Wealth named Laxmi. During the prayers, they are asking the Goddess to visit each of their houses and give them a blessing.